Students and principals to enter into new form of articling agreement

Under rule changes recently approved by the Benchers, lawyers who serve as principals and their articled students in BC will soon need to jointly file with the Law Society an approved form of articling agreement at the commencement of articles, followed by a mid-term progress report and a final report to certify completion of their respective obligations under the articling agreement: see Rules 2-32.1 and 2-48.

The Credentials Committee is now completing its review of the new articling agreement and related reporting forms. All lawyers and incoming articled students will be advised as to when the agreement will be available, when it will be in effect and how reports will be filed.

The new articling agreement and follow-up reports are expected to achieve greater consistency in the quality of articles by ensuring that students gain experience in specific lawyering skills and in at least three areas of practice.

The new Rule 2-32 specifies that, if a student does not live up to his or her obligations under the agreement, the Credentials Committee may extend the student's articling term for up to two years.

Other changes to the admission rules will also apply. Rule 2-44(6) extends the circumstances in which the Credentials Committee may exercise its discretion to exempt an articled student from the Professional Legal Training Course. The Committee retains discretion to exempt, with or without conditions, an articled student who has successfully completed a bar admission course in another Canadian province, but may also exercise that discretion for a student who has engaged in the active practice of law for at least five full years in a common law jurisdiction outside Canada.

Finally, a change to Rule 2-30 (which does not come into effect until May 1, 2004) will increase from four to seven years the extent of practice experience necessary to become a principal to an articled student. Once the amendment to Rule 2-30 is in effect, each principal will also be limited to having two students at one time.

The new rules are available online in the Resource Library section of the Law Society website and in the enclosed Member's Manual amendment package.

These rule changes flow from a restructuring of the Law Society Admission Program, as recommended by an Admission Program Task Force and approved by the Benchers in 2002. For background on the reforms, see the September-October, 2002 Benchers' Bulletin.